HARTFORD, Conn. – Hundreds of cases of an energy drink called Cocaine have been seized by the state, which accuses the Las Vegas company that produces it of not licensing it as required by law.
It's the latest in a battle that began last week when state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez denounced the drink because of its name. The drink contains no drugs and is marketed as an energy drink, the manufacturer says.
Jerry Farrell Jr., commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection, said Monday that the state has embargoed 300 cases of the drinks from distribution warehouses in Connecticut. The bottles do not provide coding indicating the source of the drink, he said.
State law requires licensing to allow state officials to know whether water used in the production is suitable for drinking, Farrell said.
"We have no information whatsoever on the drink or its potable water," he said. "If there is a problem, we want to get back to the source of the potable water."
Jamey Kirby, senior partner and founder of Redux Beverages, which manufactures the drink, said none of the company's distributors mentioned the requirement and Redux was unaware of the problem. He accused state officials of selectively enforcing the law.
"It's one of those obscure laws that they overlook," he said. "It's not an equal and just enforcement of the law."
The drink is named Cocaine to reach young people in an anti-drug effort, Kirby said. It does not contain drugs.
"Kids want to hear an anti-drug message from other kids, not from adults," he said. "Politicians and adults don't see that."
Blumenthal said state and city officials believe the drink is marketed in a way that glamorizes cocaine.
"I'm going to let his remarks speak for themselves," he said, referring to Kirby. "They contradict common sense and the experience of anyone who has children."
Hartford's mayor said he will continue to work with merchants and neighborhood leaders to keep the drink off the shelves and away from city youngsters.
"I welcome the embargo of this product that glamorizes illegal drugs and works to undo all the positive strides that Hartford residents and businesses have made in regards to the Capital Citys image," Perez said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also has taken action against Redux Beverages. It issued a warning letter to the company earlier this month, saying it is illegally marketing the drink as a street drug alternative and a dietary supplement.
The FDA cited as evidence the drink's labeling and Web site, which included the statements "Speed in a Can," "Liquid Cocaine" and "Cocaine -- Instant Rush."
Kirby said Redux has removed from its Web site information objected to by the FDA, in addition to medical claims such as ingredients that help reduce cholesterol. Redux and the FDA will meet soon to discuss the federal agency's warning letter, he said.
A spokeswoman for the FDA would not comment, saying the investigation is continuing.